‘Aaron’ It Out
Frewsburg’s Hair Tosses No-Hitter In Win Over Pine Valley
FREWSBURG — Aaron Hair was feeling it Wednesday afternoon.
The Pine Valley Panthers found out the hard way.
Frewsburg’s junior ace threw a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts as the Bears beat the Panthers, 11-0, in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 East action at the Robert H. Jackson Athletic Complex.
“I knew I had it going around the third or fourth inning,” Hair said postgame. ” … I felt really good. My pitches were all working and I felt like I was throwing hard.”
Hair threw 66 of his 100 pitches for strikes, despite first-pitch strikes to just 11 of 23 batters.
“I think he just enjoyed being able to pitch in short sleeves and being able to actually get loose,” Frewsburg (3-3, 2-1) coach Jay Grann said. “He had command of the zone today.”
Reaching the mid-80s with his fastball, the right-hander threw Frewsburg’s first no-hitter since Connor Grey and Nick Mitchell combined for a 13-strikeout no-hitter against Fredonia in 2013.
“He has a real commitment to being better every day. He puts a ton of work in all year-round,” Grann said. “He wants to be the best. He plays against the best all year. He puts the time in.”
Against Pine Valley (0-4, 0-3) on Wednesday, Hair struck out the leadoff batter before fly balls to left fielder Traden Gray and right fielder Ryan Schrecengost got him out of the first inning. He then struck out the side in the next two innings, pitching around a leadoff walk in the third.
“Aaron did well on the mound. We haven’t seen a pitcher like that this year,” Pine Valley coach Chris Buczek said. “Along with that, we haven’t played baseball for two weeks. You can’t simulate that in practice. You are finally on the field and you get to face that. It’s a tough combination.”
In the fourth, groundballs to first baseman Kaleb Bender and shortstop Jack Yost preceded Hair’s eighth strikeout, and in the fifth Yost threw out the leadoff batter on a grounder before Hair’s ninth and 10th strikeouts.
“It’s important to play clean, especially when a guy is throwing the way he was,” Grann said. “Jack had a few nice plays where he had to come get it. I’m really happy with the defense today.”
The sixth inning started with Hair’s 11th strikeout before a hit batter forced the 6-foot, 185-pounder to throw from the stretch for just the second time. It didn’t bother him as he struck out the Panthers’ leadoff batter for the third time to establish a new career high with 12 strikeouts. A flyout to Caleb Carr in center field set the stage for the dramatic seventh inning.
“I just think I was confident in my teammates behind me,” Hair said. “They had my back the whole game.”
After sitting for a while due to the Bears’ eight-run sixth inning, Hair opened the seventh by fielding a squibber to the first-base side of the pitching mound and throwing out the batter. He then struck out Pine Valley’s Nos. 5 and 6 hitters to complete the no-hitter with his 13th and 14th strikeouts.
“Last year, both of our catchers were seniors and graduated. Nick (Marsh) and I worked a lot in the offseason with a lot of bullpens and stuff,” Hair said of his batterymate. “That was definitely big. He’s definitely adjusted to me. He knows my pitches and knows where they are going to go. He knows where to set up. He’s been big.”
Frewsburg took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Schrecengost walked and eventually scored on an RBI single by Gray. In the third inning, Carr led off with a double and moved to third on an infield single by Yost. Carr then scored on an errant pickoff throw that sent Yost all the way to third. An RBI groundout by Hair made it 3-0.
“It’s huge because I know that even if I do give up a hit, I still have to room to work with,” Hair said of the early support. “I can still throw my pitches and don’t have to throw conservative.”
Pine Valley’s Kevin Hunt was effective for five innings in defeat, but struggled in the sixth. He finished with one strikeout while walking four.
“Kevin has the personality of a fighter. I think if we had supported him a little bit more behind him I think it would’ve been a 0-0 game for a little bit longer,” Buczek said. “They put the bat on the ball and made us make plays, which we didn’t. I think he got tired a little bit and just a little bit frustrated.”
The Bears put the game out of reach in their final at-bat as Brink singled, Schrecengost doubled, Gray singled, Carr singled, Marsh doubled and Schrecengost singled. It all added up to eight runs on six hits, two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly.
“Aaron obviously threw the ball well today and kept us where we needed to be, but that offense at the end was important,” Grann said. “Hopefully that’s what’s important going forward, too.”
It was plenty for Hair, who closed it out in style.
NOTES: Hair set his previous career high of 11 strikeouts twice, once against Franklinville last May 11 and again last Thursday against North Collins. … Brink, Schrecengost, Gray and Carr each had two hits for Frewsburg, which returns to action Monday, April 29 against Franklinville. … Pine Valley is scheduled to travel to Franklinville today for a 5 p.m. first pitch.